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Connecticut Federal District Court Holds Discrimination on the Basis of Transgender Identity Is Prohibited by Title VII.

Published March, 2016

By: Anthony M. Stites

A few weeks ago the EEOC had filed cases indicating sexual orientation is covered by Title VII as a form of sex discrimination. In a closely related case, a federal district court in Connecticut held that an employer discriminating on the basis of an individual's transgender identity would also violate Title VII.

In its decision, the court cited dictionaries as far back as Samuel Johnson's 1755 A Dictionary of the English Language on the meaning of the word "sex," and considered transgender cases from 1977 to the present. On the basis of the statute's language and prior case law, the court concluded that employment discrimination on the basis of transgender identity is discrimination "because of sex" and therefore violates Title VII. The court denied a Hospital's motion for summary judgment finding a job applicant who first presented as a male physician made a prima facie case of sex discrimination when the Hospital failed to hire the physician once the physician disclosed he would be transitioning to and would work as a female. (Fabian v. Hospital of Central Connecticut, No. 3:2012cv01154, decided March 18, 2016).

The case also addressed the issue of independent contractor vs. employee. The Hospital/ Employer asserted the position it sought to fill was for an independent contractor and therefore its hiring decision was not subject to Title VII. The Applicant, Dr. Fabian, argued that the position was more closely aligned with that of an employee. The court refused to determine the question on summary judgment, finding the Hospital could not show as a matter of law that the position it sought to fill was that of an independent contractor.

If you have any questions concerning the development and the clear movement of the courts towards protecting employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or transgender status, please do not hesitate to contact a Barrett McNagny lawyer. 

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